A very thoughtful article in Acupuncture Today, called ” Barriers and Bridges: Eastern Thought and Western Science” discusses what we lose by trying to fit the concepts of Traditional Chinese Medicine into a Western framework. Since this is the very essence of my research projects, “ancient medicine made modern”, I read this article with keen interest. For acupuncture practioners out there, I highly recommend the article. She makes some very good points, in that Chinese Medicine has always been considered part art and medicine, and the concepts do not translate well into a western framework so perhaps we should not apologize for that and just continue doing what we do and hope people catch up. It definitely inspired me to go back to the books and study them again for the ancient formulas and philosophies that are so satisfying.
I still feel it is crucial to establish the science behind Acupuncture for the basic reason that it should be reproducible. It’s all fine to spout that you are a “healer” as did Ted Kapchuk recently in the New Yorker, and that it was more about the man than the medicine. That’s well and good for him, but it doesn’t advance or inform the practice that is acupuncture. There are those of trying hard to tease out what is helpful and what isn’t, and hence the mushrooming amount of research on the neuroscience behind acupuncture. But that said, we are also finding scientific underpinnings to traditional treatment prescriptions, I have cited many such studies on my blog. So I look forward to delving into the old texts again to keep improving the outcomes of my patients. Please click on the link to read the whole article.
September, 2012, Vol. 13, Issue 09
Barriers and Bridges: Balancing Eastern Thought and Western Science
By Candace Veach, MTOM, LAc
…In art the ability to improvise well only comes after classical theory
is mastered and science has just begun to grasp that spiritual, mental, emotional states do affect health. The vital
foundation of our medical system is only now being discussed in reputable scientific journals.
It may be necessary to adjust language to fit more scientific settings, and it is necessary to be well-trained in Western
sciences in order to bridge the medicines; however we need to be clear that when we adjust language or concepts we have
shifted away from authentic TCM.
For example the Chinese pattern “blood deficiency” could be considered a sub-clinical case of anemia but we know this
pattern it references more than a hemoglobin counts. We do science a disservice if we forget or negate the concepts that
make TCM unique.
When we shift away from the classic theory, compromise our professional language, or when we reach automatically for a
patient medicinal or acupuncture protocol based solely on a Western diagnosis we reduce our ability to think like Chinese
physicians and we make chop-suey of this great medicine…